Two Brothers, Two Coasts, Two Marathons, One Mission: To Shatter Stigma of Addiction

A black and white photo of the Tarica brothers on the Great Wall of China

Jeremy and Zach Tarica are on a pretty courageous mission.

In just a few weeks, they’ll each be running a marathon on different sides of the country. And they’re both doing it to raise funds and awareness for Shatterproof.

On November 7, Zach, 34, will take on the Los Angeles Marathon and Jeremy, 27, will be tackling the New York City Marathon, his first time ever running a 26.2-mile race.

COVID-19 has upended so much, and city marathon schedules have been no exception. Both LA and New York postponed their 2021 races, and when they announced the rescheduled dates, “it just so happened that both the marathons are on the same day,” Jeremy said. For the Tarica brothers, it felt like the perfect opportunity to do something big in support of people affected by addiction.

“I don’t know how people run a marathon without running it for a cause. It’s such a pain in the butt,” Jeremy laughed. “To not be committed to some greater cause, to me, sounds even more challenging.”

Supporting Shatterproof’s mission to end the addiction crisis has been a big motivator for the brothers, and the grueling training schedule offered opportunities to reflect. “There’s a moment in running where you feel like you just can’t go anymore. You don’t want to go anymore,” Jeremy says. He said dealing with this internal struggle during his training, in its own way, has made him feel even more empathy for people coping with addiction.

Both brothers agree that Shatterproof offers unique and much-needed support for those who struggle.

“I think what’s really unique about Shatterproof is how solution-oriented it is,” Zach says. “I think it’s really easy to look at an overall problem and call it one. It’s a very different thing to say, ‘this is a problem we have a solution for.’ And I think Shatterproof is one of those organizations that does a really good job of creating solutions for this massive problem that we can’t afford not to address.”

What gives the brothers the courage to be open about addiction? Like countless other Americans, they’ve got personal connections to this illness. Jeremy lost a close friend, Elliott Meister, to addiction almost five years ago. And a family with whom Zach is very close recently suffered a loss — Mikey Wofford, a beloved son, brother, and friend.

“There’s still this terrible stigma,” Jeremy says. They’re hoping their marathons will help change that. “Addiction is a disease, just like cancer.”

Right off the bat, the brothers’ fundraiser resonated with their communities. “It’s always a little tough and awkward asking people for money. But within 24 hours, we got to $3,500 raised,” Jeremy explains. “It’s a cause that’s close to home for so many people, and that’s made it pretty easy.”

Jeremy also offers some great advice for anybody looking to fundraise for a cause that’s close to their heart. “A lot of times, people focus on how to make others feel passionate about the cause, when really what you’re trying to convey is why you’re passionate about the cause. And then the people who love and support you will feel passionate to support you.”

Feeling inspired? There are lots of ways you too can support Shatterproof’s mission — go here to learn more. And be sure to check out the Tarica brothers' fundraising page here.

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